Endangered leatherback turtle nest discovered on Phuket beach

Picture courtesy of DMCR

Phuket woke up to a delightful surprise on December 18 when a nest of a leatherback turtle was discovered at Tha Sai Beach in the Na Toei area of Thai Mueang District, Phang Nga, situated north of Phuket. The find, reported by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), marks another significant milestone in the conservation efforts for this endangered species.

A local, Bandit Leebamrung, from the nearby town of Baan Bo Dan, was the first to spot the nest. He promptly notified the Marine Resources Conservation Division and the Mangrove Forest Resource Conservation Centre, who swiftly arrived at the scene to verify the find.

Upon their arrival, the officers identified clear turtle tracks on the sandy beach. The turtle, which was no longer at the site, was estimated to have an impressive shell width of 56 centimetres and a flipper span of 170 centimetres, based on the markings left behind. The nest, consisting of 125 eggs, was found buried 60 centimetres deep in the sand. Unfortunately, only 91 of the eggs were deemed fertilised, with the remaining 34 labelled as hollow, reported The Phuket News.

The officers noted that the nest was located at the high tide mark. Realising the risk posed by nearby beach erosion, they decided to move the nest further up the beach, a mere 8 metres from the original location, to ensure its safety. A temporary enclosure was quickly erected to shield the nest from potential threats, including other reptiles.

In the following days, the DMCR will launch a public relations campaign and collaborate with volunteers to protect this precious marine life. They plan to involve coastal community networks, community leaders, and local government organisations in monitoring and safeguarding the nest. The aim is to ensure that the eggs complete their incubation period, estimated at 55 to 60 days, successfully and that the hatchlings make it to the sea unharmed.

On a related note, national park officers at the Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Mueang National Park in Thai Muang District had reported the first turtle nest of this egg-laying season earlier this month. Additionally, a clutch of turtle eggs was found at Khao Pilai Beach in Khok Kloi, only four kilometres from the northern tip of Phuket, on November 21. This was followed by another nest discovery at the same beach on November 11. Unfortunately, in both cases, DMCR marine biologists could not determine the species of the turtles that laid the eggs. The identity of the turtle that laid the most recent nest remains a mystery as well.

Phuket News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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